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Does excitement hinder your ability to retain information? (1 Viewer)

wolfbirder

Well-known member
I was thinking this, especially when you have a fly-by bird over the sea, or a bird seen briefly in a dense bush.

Obviously the amount of information you can retain is directly related to the length and quality of the sighting in question.

But does sheer adrenalin and excitement have any detrimental effect on what you can remember afterwards?

Answer may be obvious, but I just wondered what other birders thought?
 
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dantheman

Bah humbug
It's not just retaining information, it's gathering it in the first place too. Or actively gathering it, concentrating (as opposed to panic or forgetting to analyse).

Possibly a different question, but overlapping.
 

wolfbirder

Well-known member
It's not just retaining information, it's gathering it in the first place too. Or actively gathering it, concentrating (as opposed to panic or forgetting to analyse).

Possibly a different question, but overlapping.

I agree Dan, I think it is all interlinked, but I was just wondering whether, hypothetically speaking, given two exact same scenarios with regards to a sighting where you concentrated in both, whether adrenalin and excitement reduced your ability to retain information.

Anyway, WTF does it matter?8-P
 

Chosun Juan

Given to Fly
Australia - Aboriginal
I was thinking this, especially when you have a fly-by bird over the sea, or a bird seen briefly in a dense bush.

Obviously the amount of information you can retain is directly related to the length and quality of the sighting in question.

But does sheer adrenalin and excitement have any detrimental effect on what you can remember afterwards?

Answer may be obvious, but I just wondered what other birders thought?

In general I think no - even a fleeting glance can be enough to register a variety of information and details (as opposed to some 'what am I' photo ID requests on BF that you can stare at for ages and still not be able to pick a Sprawk from a Gos, a dark Brown Falcon from a chocolate Black Falcon, a Hobby from a Peregrine, etc ! ..... something which some of the 'true birders' are only too happy to p** p** you for - you know who you are !)

However, I think all that goes out the window when it's a rarity, or one of your 'holy grail' species that you'd been hoping to see at that location 4eva .... ! Unless you get a good long look you're just as likely to end up a hot mess !








Chosun :gh:
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
Over excitement has lead me to blurt out ridiculously wrong ID's at times, often to the amusement of others!

I can remember once in Scotland, exclaiming 'there's a whale!', it was of course a Dolphin. I slinked in to the crowd and tried to be invisble when the incredulous throng, looked around to see who the idiot was that called out Whale.

If anyone was at the Longman sewage outfall for the Ross's Gull in the early 90's, yep, that was me!
 
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Julie50

Mostly in the Midlands :)
Supporter
United Kingdom
I do that too Andy, although not as bad as some.

Last year I was in the Avalon hide at Ham Walls and for the woman next to me every female mallard was “ Oh there’s a bittern!”

I try to now just go “Is that something?” And point!

I’m just as bad on here lol
 

wolfbirder

Well-known member
It is undoubtedly worse when you are excited, seeing a new species for the first time is a wonderful thing, the epitomy of birding I feel.

I still keep an old bird-log to write up detail, but I actually think my blood pressure rises so high as the heart beats intensely at those seconds when you connect, that I sometimes almost go into a bubble almost, and it can be like a blur. I am thinking of when I saw my first Gyr, my first Great Grey Owl etc.

As for mis-identifying birds, I try to just keep my mouth shut unless I am 100% certain. Just this week I was calling out Sandwich Terns at a mile distance as possible-LT Skuas struggling in the wind, so I struggle to practice what I preach :)-.
 

Gilmore Girl

Beth
Supporter
United States
Over excitement has lead me to blurt out ridiculously wrong ID's at times, often to the amusement of others!

I can remember once in Scotland, exclaiming 'there's a whale!', it was of course a Dolphin. I slinked in to the crowd and tried to be invisble when the incredulous throng, looked around to see who the idiot was that called out Whale.

If anyone was at the Longman sewage outfall for the Ross's Gull in the early 90's, yep, that was me!

Yep, I've done this before and I also do it regularly in my own thoughts without blurting it out, thankfully. I can totally relate to the blurting and subsequent embarrassment.
 

KenM

Well-known member
Nick, for retaining information I find my “Bridge” camera is a must! Like most of us we start off with a pair of bins and use them as first recourse, however I’ve found that I’ve lost a good number of “small jobs” when I drop the bins for the camera.

Thus I now prefer to raise my camera for a shutter burst first, that way I’ve got a greater chance of gleaning any information that I might need for possible ID after the event. Nowadays I tend to only really “excite” if I find something unexpectedly...which is more not than often!
However when I’ve (mostly past) bumped into something good, the endorphin release has been not insubstantial!!! ;)

Cheers Ken :t:
 

wolfbirder

Well-known member
Nick, for retaining information I find my “Bridge” camera is a must! Like most of us we start off with a pair of bins and use them as first recourse, however I’ve found that I’ve lost a good number of “small jobs” when I drop the bins for the camera.

Thus I now prefer to raise my camera for a shutter burst first, that way I’ve got a greater chance of gleaning any information that I might need for possible ID after the event. Nowadays I tend to only really “excite” if I find something unexpectedly...which is more not than often!
However when I’ve (mostly past) bumped into something good, the endorphin release has been not insubstantial!!! ;)

Cheers Ken :t:

Interesting you say that Ken, I've actually made the conscious decision not to be a photographer, just a bird-watcher, but I must admit on numerous occasions I've wished I had been able to capture it on film for later scrutiny.

But I feel the most enjoyable aspect is being able to obtain quality views in real time, so sadly I've not yet succumbed to purchasing a camera - not that I can afford one anyway.

Maybe one day though! I do love looking at, and even saving other people's photos of rare birds I have seen.
 

dantheman

Bah humbug
I agree Dan, I think it is all interlinked, but I was just wondering whether, hypothetically speaking, given two exact same scenarios with regards to a sighting where you concentrated in both, whether adrenalin and excitement reduced your ability to retain information.

Anyway, WTF does it matter?8-P

For rubbish birders like us? ... ;)

I don't get anything like an adrenaline excitement rush as you perhaps, but I do tend to forget to look at a new or interesting bird properly (analytically, although do tend to 'drink in' the whole thing, so do still enjoy it/the experience). But that doesn't help with doing descriptions and looking at and seeking out features helps burn it into the brain for future recollection/savouring the memory I think.

So I think maybe having a mindset to be analytical and calm and rational as soon as possible will help. That may all go out the window in the moment of course ;) , but I am sure there are mental techniques to help.

When faced with a really good bird it does help to know what to hone in on initially, and examples of analysing a bird can include working from front to back or other way around etc etc. Having a mate or nearby birders (although they may not want to play) on the bird at the same time and calling out key features or calling out key questions such as 'what colour is the rump' or 'get on the underwing pattern' can be a big help/focus.

I imagine you can suppress hormones like adrenalin with an effort, or still get done what has to be done. Like not panicking in an emergency. I'm sure mental techniques including dry runs or a virtual trial (eg on a commoner bird) can help.
 
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wolfbirder

Well-known member
For rubbish birders like us? ... ;)

I don't get anything like an adrenaline excitement rush as you perhaps, but I do tend to forget to look at a new or interesting bird properly (analytically, although do tend to 'drink in' the whole thing, so do still enjoy it/the experience). But that doesn't help with doing descriptions and looking at and seeking out features helps burn it into the brain for future recollection/savouring the memory I think.

So I think maybe having a mindset to be analytical and calm and rational as soon as possible will help. That may all go out the window in the moment of course ;) , but I am sure there are mental techniques to help.

When faced with a really good bird it does help to know what to hone in on initially, and examples of analysing a bird can include working from front to back or other way around etc etc. Having a mate or nearby birders (although they may not want to play) on the bird at the same time and calling out key features or calling out key questions such as 'what colour is the rump' or 'get on the underwing pattern' can be a big help/focus.

I imagine you can suppress hormones like adrenalin with an effort, or still get done what has to be done. Like not panicking in an emergency. I'm sure mental techniques including dry runs or a virtual trial (eg on a commoner bird) can help.

From one rubbish birder to another;), I would hate 'not' to get that immense adrenalin rush Dan - ultimately for me, its what it is all about.

But I also admit that remaining calm should be critical, tho I'm afraid when for instance, at Bempton Cliffs a month or two ago, when someone shouted "Ive got the Albatross" my legs automatically ran towards the side of the lookout point it was allegedly seen from........it was like a mad crowd rush for the bus in the rain towards an ever-narrowing space. Anyway, it was just a Gannet, and I'm yet to see an Albatross.

But at moments like this, things just go haywire.
 

Paul Longland

Well-known member
I think we have all blurted out obviously erroneous IDs at one time or another. OK, yes it can be embarrassing, but a very well respected birder once told me it is better to call it and be wrong than to not say anything at all, especially when there is a good chance that there may well be something special around. I think his words were something akin to Any birder who claims never to have got an ID wrong is not a true birder and probably wouldn't know the difference between a sparrow and an albatross.

For many of us "rubbish", or as i prefer to think average birders out there this is an occupational hazard. Lets be honest, a fleeting glimpse of a LBJ could just as easily be a garden warbler or a female sparrow or several other species. Also, we are often preconditioned as to what we expect to see. How many people, having seen a buzzard in the highlands, start to get over excited and therefore are convinced that what they have seen was an eagle? Case in point was the "Bairds Sandpiper" at Rutland water. Dozens of people were fully convinced of it (myself included at the time). because that is what they were expecting to see, driving over there, getting onto the bird all built up the Adrenalin and excitement clouding minds and allowing the collective mis-ID until someone came along and calmly questioned why it was not a Sanderling.
 

Britseye

Well-known member
Nick, have you seen post 3 under Bermuda Petrel Devon? Seems a good example of what you're thinking about.

I once came across an Olivacous Warbler in Ireland and even though I pretty much knew what it was as soon as I saw it, I still wanted to see the tail pump before I rang it out. Trouble is I was shaking so much for the first ten minutes it had to dip the tail at least half a dozen times before I could be certain it was the bird and not me jiggling about!
 

Britseye

Well-known member
Re Paul's post above about eagles in Scotland. Back in 1984 I was in the back seat of a car of five driving through Glen Feshie looking for our first Golden Eagles. Mate sat next to me suddenly gripped my knee with one hand and gesticulated frantically with the other, his mouth agape with silent panicked anxiety unable to express the words he required to get the driver to pull over. Luckily I was able to act as interpreter and tell the guy behind the steering wheel to save himself the bother since the object of attention was actually a small, low-flying glider-type aeroplane.
 

KenM

Well-known member
Re Paul's post above about eagles in Scotland. Back in 1984 I was in the back seat of a car of five driving through Glen Feshie looking for our first Golden Eagles. Mate sat next to me suddenly gripped my knee with one hand and gesticulated frantically with the other, his mouth agape with silent panicked anxiety unable to express the words he required to get the driver to pull over. Luckily I was able to act as interpreter and tell the guy behind the steering wheel to save himself the bother since the object of attention was actually a small, low-flying glider-type aeroplane.

Didn’t have my reading glasses on!...thus had to double check the first letter of the word gesticulated! :-O
 

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